As early as 1825 several packs of hunting hounds were amalgamated to form the United Hunt, predecessor of the United Hunt Club. The ‘United’ had a chequered career. The gentry subscribed a lot of money but got bad value for it. The hounds were disparagingly called “ould Irish curs” and the younger men opted for scientifically bred English hounds which they imported at great expense. The sport did not improve and the
blame was then put on the huntsman. The English hounds couldn’t understand his brogue – so he was fired and a Scotsman was put in charge. Very soon the ‘United’ went bankrupt and the hounds were sold at a great loss. The fourth Lord Shannon made a brave effort to revive the sport and built kennels in Castlemartyr but after five years he sold the pack. Then John Courtney of Ballyedmond, shortly after his horse ‘Mathew’ had won the English Grand National in 1847, got a pack together. At one Club Meeting, Mr. Courtney rode his horse upstairs despite the protestations of the landlady and jumped him over some of the furniture. His pack only lasted one year (1848).
In 1871 the fifth Lord Shannon, came to live at Castlemartyr and bought two packs, one from Robert Uniake who resided in Castletown and the other from Lord Fermoy which gave rise to the United Hunt Club. He lived hunting and whatever the weather he hunted four days a week. He had a difference with Mr. Edmond Fitzgerald of Clonmult who kept his own pack and claimed ancestral rights to a number of fox covers and would not forego them. Lord Shannon gave up and sold his pack. Nevertheless the United Hunt Club survived and well-appointed kennels were built in Knockgriffin in 1876. They were officially opened by Arthur, Duke of Connaught, Queen Victoria’s third son, who was an army officer stationed in Fermoy. Mr. John Murphy of Annmount, Glounthaune, a member of the Brewing and Distilling family was master (1880-1889) and met with strong opposition from supporters of the Land League who regarded fox hunting as another aspect of ascendancy oppression of the tenant farmers.
16- 07- 1890
Following the death of Edmond Fitzgerald Master Clonmult Foxhounds the Pack were amalgamated with the United Hunt. As part of the amalgamation is was agreed the United Hunt would meet at Clonmult on St. Stephen’s Day each year. This continued until 1968 when Cronin’s Licensed Premises ceased trading. The Green Lapel on the United Hunting Coat represents the Clonmult Foxhounds.
A Mr. Nicholson, who had been a noted athlete in his young days, was master (1897-1906). He made great efforts to promote the U.H.C. and was partly responsible for the planting of sixteen new fox covers which included Ballinahina, Ballinvarrig and Hightown, Mellifontstown and Ballyogaha in the Bartlemy area.
The next master was Colonel Collis who had to contend with a great shortage of foxes, and in 1907 he imported one hundred and ten brace of foxes from Wales and Kerry.
Major General E.W. Powell of Avondale, Midleton, was master during the First World War and though he missed four years of hunting, he paid all the bills, so that the U.H.C. remained active and in good shape during his absence.
In 1919 started the longest and most illustrious reign in the history of the United Hunt Club when Major A.H. Watt came to live at the Grange, Midleton, and became master. He was actively involved (1919-1948) and the U.H.C. became one of the most fashionable packs. The Hunt was renowned and visitors came from both sides of the Atlantic to enjoy a gallop with the hounds who hunted four days a week. In the year 1930 alone the hounds were out one hundred and ten days and killed eighty foxes.
Mr. F.P. Hallinan, nick-named “Tiny” because he was a giant of a man and weighed over twenty stone, was master from 1944 to 1948. He mounted his staff on beautiful grey horses. He was killed by a fall from his horse while hunting near Carrignavar village.
In 1949 the United Hunt Club made history when Miss Mary Whitehead became the first woman master of the United Hunt Club. She was a very prominent member of the British International Show Jumping Team. In 1951, Mrs. Bell of Fota, with her husband became joint masters of the United Hunt Club.
As time passed on and the town of Midleton spread further and further through development, it was found that the existing Kennels were too enclosed to act as an effective place from which to base a pack of Hunting Hounds. In 2007 after an extensive search a suitable site was found at Garrylaurence in Clomult and work began on developing a top class state of the art kennels. The kennels were completed and opened in 2008 and it is from this base that the United Hunt Club hopes to grow and to continue to promote hunting for many more years to come
The United Hunt Club by kind permission of the landowners hunts the country from in the East Cork area covering from Carriganavar to Cloyne and from Ballynoe back to the Half Way Bar bordering west Waterford.
Following One Hundred and Eighteen years in exile Clomult Foxhounds have finally come home.